Outdoor cats (or barn cat without a barn)

Discussion in 'Working and Companion Animals' started by Ed K, Aug 14, 2006.

  1. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2003
    We just found three kittens approximately 4 weeks old in a den in our old barn foundation.

    We took them to the emergency vet. One was euthanized (maggot infestation in open sores). The other two are chilled and dehydrated but will probably make it. My wife and one son have serious allergies to cats so keeping them indoors (after we've successfully incubated and cared for them until they're 8 weeks or so) is not an option.

    I've been reading horror stories (in cat fancy magazine and cat sites on the internet) about the dangers of outdoor life for cats with predators, disieases etc etc. One site suggested a life expectancy of 3 years average for an outdoor cat vs 12 years for an indoor.

    Our 8 & 12 year old boys have become very attached to these kittens in the two days we've had them and want to keep them.

    Do you think an outdoor cat can stay healthy?

    I know there are tons of barn cats out there that seem to do well but unfortunately I don't have a barn
  2. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 6, 2004
    Michigan's thumb
    They will need a shelter of some sort, preferably something that has a perch for them. I've had indoor/outdoor cats, and I've had outdoor cats (very allergic). As long as your children give attention to the cats everyday, and you give the cats ordinary vet care and high quality food, they should be fine outdoors. You'll want to dig up a small area out of the way, loosen the dirt, and put fresh cat litter over the area so your kittens know where the bathroom is when they start living outside. They will probably end up going in the grass.

    You need to be putting the kittens outside for longer and longer periods of time so they feel comfortable outside. They need a place to escape to, if you have trees they can climb this will work.

    And, you'll want to have them fixed before the snow melts.

  3. RandB

    RandB Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2002
    southern New Jersey
    We have a farm, and always have some outdoor cats. Personally the biggest problem we have had to shorten their life is, they get hit by cars on the road. If you live in a high-traffic area, that could be a problem.

    Do you have any outbuildings? If so, you can fix them a nice cozy corner of a shed or garage, with a box of old blankets, or an old dog bed, something like that. You could install a small cat door to give them access, or keep a window open partially to allow them access, with a ledge on the outside they can jump up on.
    If you don't have anyplace they can get inside, then consider a doghouse, big enough for both when they are grown, and put some warm bedding in it. We had a cat who spent every winter night in one of those heavy plastic dog houses. We even put a heating pad in there, under the bedding, for really cold nights.
    The other thing to keep in mind is, during the winter, make sure they have a sheltered place to eat, and make sure they always have un-frozen water available.
  4. Willowynd

    Willowynd Well-Known Member

    Mar 27, 2005
    I had one farm cat- a male. As soon as he hit sexual maturity and knocked up my himalayan -he must have overheard me making his nueter appointment- he dissappeared and never returned. I never found him on the road- so maybe he went to another farm. I have no idea.
    Another cat I had- he was an indoor cat but was put out after he sprayed in the house on my son's mattress- and was FORD at 3 am. I will never forgive myself for putting him outside that night.
    Both of these cats were under 3 yrs old and I am in the country. IMO if you want a cat to live a long life- get it altered and keep it inside- outside cats do not last long. Personally, I will never have an outdoor cat again unless there is a way to keep it inside a barn at all times.